There is not much that excites me more than learning about something I am passionate about. I am one of those eager beavers you see at conferences who likes to sit in the front row with their eyes following the speaker everywhere they turn, who comments a lot, and who asks a lot of questions. Yesterday was no different. I am in Toronto for the Festivals and Events Ontario Conference. I arrived on Wednesday evening and will be heading home Sunday morning.
Yesterday was a pre-conference day. I registered for a couple “advanced” courses. In the morning I took a sponsorship session. That session was actually a full day session but there was another session in the afternoon that I really wanted to take so I split my day in half. And as the morning ended I was worried about missing the afternoon but to be honest I was so mentally drained after the morning that I was really glad that I took something a little less heavy in the afternoon. The afternoon session I took was on bringing food to your festival.
So let’s see if I can recap a bit of my morning and share some of what I learned. The session was given by Brent Barootes, the President and CEO of Partnership Group, Sponsorship Specialists. What I love about this company is that they don’t sell sponsorships for you, they are the ones who analyze your event and help you to create sponsorship opportunities. Or in the reverse, work with companies to create the vision they want to promote and then how best to activate it to get the best bang for their buck.
Do you know the difference between philanthropy and sponsorship? Philanthropy is when a gift is given with no expectation of anything in return. So when a company wants to donate to your cause without any expectation of advertising or free tickets or anything else in return. All they want is to help support your organization or cause and they get a tax receipt. Sponsorship is when they want recognition for what they’ve given you. This is what we are all most familiar with seeing; company logos on everything, banners everywhere, etc.
Property in the sponsorship world is the selling organization. So if you are a festival or charity looking to sell sponsorships you are the property.
Assets and inventory – Assets are what you have to sell. When you look at your event you break it down piece by piece and sell as much as you can in sponsorship. Brent was telling us a story about how one of his clients started about with 70 assets, when they were done with them they had 400 to sell. Inventory is when you put all of those assets together, they become your inventory. Just like store inventory.
Activation was my favourite discussion of the morning because this is something I do well, I just never realized there was a name for it. And I have the perfect example for this. I don’t remember if I blogged about it. About a year or so ago I was asked if I would take a moment to evaluate an event, a PGA Canada event that was taking place out in the 1000 Islands. At this time I was trying to get a job with this event so that I could be a part of it the next year. Which by the way, they hired me for but then the deal fell through because the guy who hired me backed out of the event. But anyway…
So when I toured the golf course there was this gorgeous area on the 18th hole where there was a winery set up, several roped off areas and a tented display area. The gentleman who I was trying so hard to impress asked me specifically to look at this area and tell me what I saw wrong with it. I stood there for a little while and watched. It was bluntly obvious to me, so much so though that it worried me I was wrong and it wasn’t what he was looking for. But I trusted my instincts and went home and wrote up my report.
The tented area was the title sponsors tent. They had tables all done up with tablecloths, there was food covered with cellophane off to the side and there was a board with some promotional material. The two staff who appeared to be working the area were sitting in the two front seats with their feet up on the fence watching the golfer on the 18th hole trying to complete his round. The tent was empty. There were several people standing around the tent watching, but no one inside. The title sponsor was the Great Waterway, they were trying to promote tourism in their area, where the PGA golf tournament was being held. Imagine! They had paid all this money to be the title sponsor and didn’t “activate” their sponsorship. They didn’t make that amazing space and incredible event work for them. They should have invited VIPs to sit in their tent, their staff should have been inviting everyone around the tent to come in and sit down and watch from their special place, eat the food, look at their advertising, talk to them about the Great Waterway, etc.
The other areas were the exact same. There were two roped off areas, both with sponsors names on the signs – Sponsored by:…. Both spaces were completely empty. Not even any representatives there. They hadn’t activated their sponsorship. They paid all this money to have their name there but didn’t invite their clients to enjoy the day on the golf course with them.
Well I handed in my report and wasn’t sure what he’d say. He responded with “you are exactly right”. Phew.
Yesterday I learned that what I was talking about was activation. And thankfully activation is something ITM does very well on its own with its own sponsorships.
The last definition we learned is ROI – return on investment. Sponsors want to know what their return on investment is. They want to see what they are going to get out of their investment. Sponsors should be able to see a 10x ROI. So if they sponsor your event with $1000 they should see $10,000 out of it.
Well, I could go on and on all day about what I learned in that session alone but I still have to going for today, another big day today. So which means I have run out of time to discuss my afternoon session so I will do that tonight because it is certainly one I want to share with you as well.
I hope you all have a fantastic day and remember to live your moment today.
Julia O’Grady has big vision, fresh ideas and a proven track record in the events industry. She and her team work hard to exceed client expectations and push ITM Events to achieve greater heights. A driven entrepreneur, Julia also manages the business side of ITM Events including human resources, finances, marketing and writing grant and sales proposals. In taking a high level approach to event management, Julia is able to visualize a project from inception to successful execution. She attracts valuable sponsors by offering meaningful opportunities to engage with participants. Julia uses her keen analytical mind to create incredible events that maximize the available budget. When Julia isn’t planning unforgettable events, she loves travelling the world with her family, staying active, and enjoying fine food and martinis.